I have been watching with much interest the dabates going on in the blogosphere about what the Archbishop of Canterbury may or may not have said or meant in his recent speech. I have also tried to read the speech and failed dismally, but that may be because I am an ordinary working class lad who went to a secondary modern school and do not have the intellectual prowess of the Archbishop and some of the other bloggers who have commented on this.
What does seem to be missing to me is the reality check that can possibly only be done by those who live in areas with a high BME community. I have lived and worked in Walsall in the West Midlands for almost a quarter of a century in fact almost half of my lifespan to date, and it is an area that has a fairly high BME population with concentrations in certain parts of the town - in the area I live almost 30% of the population are from the BME communities. In fact within a few doors of my home I have neighbours from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the Caribean and there are Sikhs, Hindus, and at least three strands of Muslims as well as Christians and those of no particular religion. For some of my neighbours and colleagues I work with the thought of introducing Sharia law brings great distress and if ( and please note I said IF) the Archbishop was suggesting this in his speech they would be very concerned.
Another issue for me is the 'newspapers' that people read in Walsall and how they believe that anything in the paper is gospel truth. It is a statistical fact that the average reading age in Walsall is 8 years and it is also fairly well accepted that this is the age that papers like the Sun are written for.
I am not sure that there are many people in Walsall who would actually be able to read the Archbishops speech and therefore their only source of information is via the tabloid newspapers whose writers are probably as unable to decipher the speech as i am. I did read on one blog that it is reasonable to expect commentators on theological matters should have some knowledge of their topic and this is probably more than correct - after all I am sure the writers of the back page are very well versed in their subjects.
This may well be an issue that will be around for a while and perhaps the important thing here is that the Archbishop was talking to lawyers in language that was appropriate for the audience and not necessarily for the ordinary man in the street, hence it may not be understandable to most people.
I remember that great comic duo Flanders and Swann talking about language and saying that if you say good morning to a scientist he will say 'the reciprocal of pye to you'proof if it were needed that some people speak in language that only they understand.
It will be interesting to see where this issue ends up and how near the truth some of the thoughts of the commentators will be or become.